Thought for May
Last week I met a Benedictine monk whose job it was to ring the bell before every service. At this particular monastery there are 5 services every day. The earliest is at 7:00am and the last one is at 8:10pm. The monk’s job was to ring the bell 10 minutes before each service to signal to the other monks and the guests that it was time to stop what they were doing and head to the chapel. He rang the bell again, 10 minutes later to signify the start of the service. This sounds like a pretty cool job actually. As kids didn’t we all want to ring the bell? This monk told us that he thought it was the hardest job at the monastery, though. It was hard because he had to be always vigilant. Everyone else could go about their day and trust that the bells would ring and they would know when to go and pray. Would something terrible happen if he rang the bell late or not at all? No, but he would have let his community down. Luckily this community understood this burden and no one had the job for longer than a week.
So what are you being vigilant about in your life? Where do you feel responsible for everyone else? And when is you week up? Who else needs to take a turn? Vigilance is tiring and it is when we are tired that we make mistakes. It can be a bit arrogant too. Are there areas of your life where you feel that no one could do as good a job as you do? That could actually be true but the important question is, so what. Maybe it is time to rethink those areas of your life.
Challenge for May
Find an area of your life where you need to let go or reassign vigilance. What are you in charge of that could be given up completely or given to someone else for a while; maybe not forever, but for some time to give you a break. This could be a specific task or it could be worrying about someone or something. I challenge you to get rid of it for at least a little while. The world will survive. It may even grow and change a little. When I was a kid and I misplaced something that I should have been keeping track of, I would ask my parents where it was. They used to reply, “It’s not my week to watch it.” Maybe they were Benedictines and I never knew it!
Thought for March
Recently someone posted a quote on FaceBook that said “Sure sign of spiritual growth: You want more freedom and less stuff. “ The quote was attributed to Lisa Villa Prosen. So while you may not agree that wanting less stuff is necessarily something spiritual, I want you to at least consider how “stuff” relates to “freedom”. All of our stuff requires something from us to maintain it. For big stuff like cars, boats, and houses that is obvious. But little stuff has an impact too, even if it is only that it needs to be dusted off regularly. If you have a lot of clothes – does it take longer to decide what to wear each day? Do you ever stress about magazines or books that you don’t have time to read? Are you considering either a storage unit or a bigger house to fit your stuff? Getting rid of stuff is great for all kinds of spiritual reasons, ecological reasons, charitable reasons, and sometimes it is just good for your sanity.
Challenge for March
What stuff do you have that takes up too much time and space – in your house and your mind? What can you easily recycle or donate to create more space and time. You don’t need to completely clean house, unless you want to. Maybe just stop being a “collector” for a while.
Have a free March
Cathy Parker CPCC ACC
Learn more about how coaching can help you at www.trustyourvoice.com
Thought for December
The holidays are a time for traditions. So this month’s voice is an oldie but a goodie. Now that we are in the season of overindulgence I think it is time to think about the classic idea of doing less, of saying no to something. Since we all will be asked to do so many things it should be even easier to say no to something. But there are so many choices! Which should we pick? How about some ground rules. Don’t say no to the things YOU really enjoy. Don’t say no to the things that promote your health and sanity. Get rid of something that feels like a chore or a duty. Yes someone else might be disappointed. Remember, disappointment is not fatal. You know because you have suffered from it many times. If you can handle, so can they. This year say no to being responsible for everyone else’s happiness.
Challenge for December
Instead of over indulging, say no to something instead. You might decide to say no to a particular tradition that isn’t working for you anymore, or you might decide to say no to unrealistic expectations. Say no to one party, 5 people on your holiday card list, or one last extra present. You pick whatever you want to say no to. It doesn’t matter what you pick. Trust that you will pick correctly and when those other voices tell you “bad things” will happen – say no to them too. If friends and family push back – show them this blog post and invite them to play too. Let me know how it goes!
Have a decisive November
Thought for October
October is known as a time when we engage in all sorts of scary activities. And of course I am referring to the presidential election, or more specifically the campaign activity. This election season has been one of the most negative in recent history and it is probably only going to get worse as Election Day rolls around. There has been name calling and dire predictions on both sides. So this month’s voice is about how to get through the next month or so. We all will have different needs during this time. For some it will help to be more informed and others it may help to disengage a bit. Please don’t misunderstand. I strongly encourage you to vote and to be informed about the facts when you do. If you have not decided who to vote for, then I encourage you to get the information you need in the most effective way you can. I also suggest though, that you do not rely on only one source unless, of course, it is John Stewart. (Just kidding). If, on the other hand, you have decided who to vote for and are comfortable that you have the information you need, maybe you should disengage from the media a bit. Is it really likely that you will hear something at this point that will change your mind? Continuing to listen to partisan information about your candidate can be frustrating. The constant slicing and dicing of poll numbers can create anxiety, even if your candidate is ahead. So if you are not part of the campaign staff and can’t really do anything about it, let it go. Focus your attention on something fun and positive – Halloween!
Challenge for October
Disconnect from the discontent. Gather the data you need on the candidates, including the local races, and then make an informed decision based on your personal beliefs and values. If you are somewhere that allows early voting, maybe go ahead and vote. Then you can focus on what else is going on in the world.
A Thought for August
Rules – sometimes we love them and sometimes we hate them. For this month’s voice I want to talk about how we sometimes hide behind them. Sometimes rules allow us to avoid thinking about things differently or taking risk. “Sorry we can’t do that. It is against the rules.” Organizations can do that too. It is the “circling the wagons” behavior that people and organizations exhibit when they feel threatened. When things aren’t going well, we start enforcing the rules more vigorously. We see that now in our public discourse. People are eager to label each other according to strict rules of behavior or beliefs. “You must believe all of this to be in my group. If not you are an outsider.” Hiding behind rules and traditions doesn’t allow for compromise and discussion, though. “Those are the rules! There is nothing I can do about it.” We have all been frustrated by someone who cannot accommodate our wants and needs because they won’t bend the rules. This month I want you to look at how you hide behind rules. Where do you just follow the rules, rather than challenge yourself? Do you do just what you are supposed to do at work or school or do you look for ways to learn or innovate? Do you reach across offices and department to work together despite the rules? And what about your spiritual life? Religion is a common source of rules for many of us; whether it is just the Golden Rule or something much more elaborate. Do your spiritual rules challenge you to help better society or do they help shelter you from the needs of the world? We all have that voice that wants us to always follow the rules. We also have that voice that wants us to break rules for selfish reasons. This can be a tricky place. Rules are important but following rules cannot be your only purpose in life.
A Challenge for August
So where do rules make you too comfortable? Where do you need to challenge yourself to either let go of an old personal rule that doesn’t serve you or to work to change a community rule that is hurting the community? Rules need to evolve as our society and businesses evolve. One place to look is wherever you don’t want rules to change. What do those rules protect you from? Yes it is a tricky place but trust your heart and your mind. You do know the difference between a rule that benefits and one that doesn’t.
Thought for July
This month’s challenge is to put your voice where your convictions are. What do I mean by that? I am referring to speaking out about what you believe in; and specifically, since we just celebrated the 4th of July, speaking out to our government. My goal is not to tell you what to say. You must use your voice not mine. You might actually end up speaking for something I am actually against. That is the chance I will take because I believe the world will benefit from your voice. Many times we sit back and think someone else will speak for us and our causes will be supported without our help. Or we think that our single voice cannot make a difference. Even if you know your representative will vote for a cause you support, it is still important to let him or her know what you think. They are supposed to be working for us, remember. How would you feel if your boss never told you what you are supposed to work on? So – let them know when you are happy with them, when you are unhappy with them, and how you want them to vote on the issues. It is actually quite easy. You can call, email, or write a letter, whichever you prefer. Do hesitate to make your voice heard.
Challenge for July
Your challenge this month is to reach out to one of your representatives. It can be in the federal government or your local town or village. It can be on immigration, healthcare, or the zoning in your neighborhood. Pick a cause and raise your voice. Find out who your representatives are and how to contact them. Here is a website you can use to find who your representatives are in the federal government. http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/your-elected-officials. State and local officials can be found on state and local websites. So speak up and let me know who you contacted. You don’t have to include the issue. And if you give me permission, I will post them on Facebook and Twitter and we can all see the reach of our voices.
Have an talkative July
Cathy Parker CPCC ACC
I think many of us struggle with the idea of becoming the boss. Sometimes it feels like being in charge is supposed to be everyone’s goal. Most companies are still structured so that in order to keep progressing up the career ladder you need to become the boss. Many high-tech companies actually don’t require that. They have dual career paths that allow you to go pretty far as a “individual contributor”. I think they figured that out after they promoted enough brilliant, introverted engineers who had no interest in the people development part of management. Let’s be honest here. Being the boss is a specific job that requires talents not needed to be an individual contributor. To go from doing your job to being the boss is a career change not the next step up. Chances are if you love your job, becoming the boss may take you further away from the things you like to do, writing code, working with customers, designing products. Oh there are lots of new things you may love to do, setting the strategy, developing young employees, organizing and communicating information. I have been a manager before and at the time I enjoyed it. The one time I wanted to be a manager, it was because I was bored with my current career. I wanted to stop doing what I was doing and try something else. Now, however, I love what I am doing and I don’t want to be the boss. I know what I would have to stop doing some things I love, if I became the boss. But many people assume if you are good at what you do, you will want to be the boss. And if you don’t want that promotion you must not be ambitious. Sometimes we even convince ourselves we are not ambitious if we don’t want to be in charge. Partly to blame is our culture of treating managers with some sort of deference because of their position. We need to get rid of the old “Lord” and “Commoner” perspective. What if we treated management as a separate job, which required certain skills and gifts? What if we promoted people when they excelled at their jobs without requiring them to change careers? When I was a manager, I managed people who were more senior than me, not just years of services but actual job titles etc. Yup, they made more money than me and everything. I was their manager, not their parent or their master. My job was to get them they things they needed to succeed and then get out of the way. It really worked. Maybe all companies will get there someday and we can all go back to being ambitious about the jobs we like to do. Till then, really think about your gifts, skills and interests before you strive for the next promotion.